Friday, July 31, 2015

Best Back to School Tip!

Hello again!  I am linking up with Hanging Around in Primary and Pop Into Primary today to highlight our very best back to school tips!

The first week or so of school is so hectic.  I always forget how NEW they are...they don't know the routine, the procedure, the rule...they are all just waiting around for you to tell them what to do.  It's EXHAUSTING.  One thing I struggle with at the beginning of the year is my student's ID numbers.  Each of our kiddos has a six digit code they have to memorize.  They use it to pay for their lunches, log in to the computers, and check out library books.  The lunch line in those first few weeks is always impossibly long because our sweet babies forget their number over the summer and have to relearn it...which means frantic teachers and lunch ladies are looking up and entering numbers for kids.  
Now, in the past I have given each kid a card with their name and number on it, but usually at some point in the week half of them get lost or coated with food.  I had a brainstorm this summer.  I had to borrow this picture from First Grader At Last, because I don't have my list yet to make mine.

I bought cute name tags from the Dollar Spot at Target and ordered the little plastic sleeves and some cute little lanyards from Amazon.

My plan is to have my kids wear them for the first week, and maybe the second.  I'm going to have their name on the front of the tag and their number on the back.  This will also help with the name games we play at the beginning of the year, and they can wear them when we have a substitute!
I hope this helps make your first week a little less crazy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back to School Sale!!

Every year around this time Teachers Pay Teachers has their annual Back to School sale.  
Whoo hoo!  It's like Christmas for teachers!

Everything in my store will be 20% off, with an extra 10% off if you use the promo code.  What a deal!  This is the perfect time to grab my newest product, my Social Studies Power Point Bundle.

This bundle has six power points in it already, and more will be added throughout the year.  These power points address the standards and include opportunities to turn and talk, respond orally, and respond through writing. This bundle currently includes:
-Why We Need Rules
-Past, Present, and Future
-People At Work (community helpers, goods and services, needs and wants)
-American Symbols
-Families Change and Grow
-Presidents' Day (George Washington, Abe Lincoln)

The price of the bundle will go up as products are added, so grab it now and download the new products for free as I add them!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mail Call!

Oh, happy day!  My much awaited boxes came in the mail today!  I got a delivery from Really Good Stuff AND Amazon, in the same day...whoo hoo!  I'm sure the hubby is just as thrilled as I am.  Want to see what's inside?

First up...My new calendar stuff!  I order these pre printed calendars from Really Good Stuff every year.  I love that I don't have to mess with switching out the numbers and what not.  Plus, they are super cute, and come with little stickers you can add for birthdays, holidays, assembles, etc.  My kids love reading the fun fact or joke that is written in the boxes for each day.  I also got some new Days of the Week and Months of the Year posters, because mine were just plain worn out!

I also got these super cute table tags from Really Good Stuff.  I splurge every year for the super durable heavy plastic adhesive tags because they last ALL. YEAR. LONG.  I sometimes have to write the kid's names again because the Sharpie will fade, and there is always one or two kids who manage to peel up the corners, but I have had great success with these bad boys!  They had a new design out this year...cute little school buses, so I went with that for this year.

I also got a ton of new border.  I do my room in black and white chevron, with primary colored accents.  I'm gong to try layering my borders this year, so we will see how that turns out!

Next up...Amazon!  I only got two things from Amazon, but I'm super excited about them.  I finally found solid black pocket charts to match my room, hooray!  I also got some Astrobrights paper.  I have read so much about cool things teachers are doing with this super cute paper, I couldn't resist buying a few packages to try it out!

Well, that's my haul!  I'm excited to get it all in my new room and start decorating (assuming they ever let us in the dang building...grrr...)!  So, did you buy anything new for your room this year?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Class Dojo's NEW feature!!

Friends, I have some super exciting news!  I have been using Class Dojo in my classroom for the last few years, with amazing results.  My kids love it, my parents love it.  It's a win/win!  

If you aren't familiar with it, you should definitely go to Class Dojo and check it out.  It is an online behavior management system that awards students points for positive behavior (you can also take away points for negative behavior, if you choose to).  Parents can access the site from the app on their phone or their computer at any time to see how their little one is doing.  You can also use the messaging feature to communicate with parents instantly!  It has been a game changer in my classroom, and I am excited to announce that Class Dojo will be rolling out some new features this summer, and the first one launches today!

Finally, an easy way to reward teamwork and collaboration in the classroom!!  Class Dojo knows what teachers like, so they have set up a way for us to group our table, team, group, or any way you like!  I can now quickly and easily give table points to my quietest table, the most on task group...the possibilities are endless!

I spent some time this morning playing with the new feature and making groups.  It's so easy to use!

Stay tuned...there are more amazing new features to come, and I will tell you all about them as they go live!  You can get more information about Class Dojo groups here.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Must Read Monday: Books About Compassion

Hello all!  I'm back for another link up with Kindergarten Planet and The Kindergarten Connection. This week we are showing off our favorite books that teach our littles about compassion. Most children are compassionate and caring by nature, but it is so important that we foster this and help it grow.  There is already so much ugliness and meanness in the world, why not help our little ones learn to solve conflicts and take care of each other?

One of my favorite books to read to my firsties is A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Phillip C. Stead.
This book came to me in a stack of books a veteran teacher was giving away when she retired, and I was lucky enough to grab it.  It is such a sweet story about a zookeeper who takes such good care of his animals that they decide to return the favor when he gets sick.  All of the animals climb on the bus and go to visit Amos and take care of him.  It's an adorable book, and has tons of great vocabulary to boot!

Another favorite, especially at the beginning of the year, is Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes.  In this story Chrysanthemum loves her name until she goes to school and the other kids make fun of it.  She begins to "wilt" until a favorite teacher shows her compassion and helps her to be proud of her name again.

My last choice is Bear Feels Sick, by Karma Wilson. I absolutely love the bear books for firsties, but I have to say this is one of my favorites.  Bear catches a cold and all of his little woodland friends care for him.  Then, as soon as he is well his friends catch his cold and he ends up caring for them!  It is a great story to reinforce the "do unto others" concept with little ones.

So, what books do you read to teach your students about compassion?  Link up with us and share!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Meet the Teacher Freebie!

Hey there!  I finally decided to get it in gear the other day and actually do something productive! We do a "Meet the Teacher" night every year during the week before school starts.  I decided this year I needed cute new student information forms to hand out to my kiddos.  Because I'm feeling so impressed with myself for actually getting off the couch and doing something, I thought I would share it with you!  The student information sheet is now in my TPT store for free.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Weather Watchers!

This year I had the honor of being chosen to pilot a Project Based Learning cohort in my district.  It was such an amazing experience!  One teacher from each elementary and a few from the secondary campuses were sent to a week long training put together by our technology department, and I learned SO MUCH.  

The training really focused on using technology within PBL, which was awesome, because I got to learn how to use all of the nifty things that Google and Chromebooks have to offer.  I love how easy Google apps are for my kiddos to use!

My favorite project that we did last year involved tracking and reporting the weather.  The purpose of the project was for my students to see how weather differs over a span of time, and to compare the weather in different areas of the world.

For our big kick off event, a local meteorologist, Chikage Windler, came and spoke to my class.  She was so sweet, and my kiddos learned so much from her.  Being able to see a meteorologist in person and learn about how she does her job made the learning so much more meaningful or my students.  I would highly recommend reaching out to your community and looking for local experts to speak to you class if you are using PBL in your room.

After that my littles were chomping at the bit to get started. I gave them recording sheets and they used their Chromebooks to look up the weather in our town and a city far away.  I had them use an app called YoWindow for this, and if you aren't familiar with it, you should check it out!  It is very kid friendly, and allows the kids to see the weather conditions in whatever city they choose.  It was so cool for them to see how the weather (and time of day!) was so different around the world.  Here are a few screen shots from YoWindow:

My kiddos were responsible for recording the weather conditions, and the high and low temperatures for each city over a five day period.  My gifted and talented group decided to take it a bit further and collect data on four cities!

Once they had recorded their data, they worked as a team to create a script for a weather forecast.  This was a great place to differentiate.  My higher groups really ran with this and had a great time.  Some of my *ahem* less enthusiastic writers needed a bit more support, so I gave them a script with sentence starters to help them organize their thoughts.  Once the script was written and approved, they took a few days to rehearse.  

Finally, it was time to record their forecasts!  We used the WeVideo app on the Chromebooks.  The kids got a HUGE kick out of seeing themselves on camera!

Once every group had a chance to record and I had a few days to edit with our tech guru, Kelly, we were ready for our big unveiling!  We invited parents, administrators, and other classes to come and and have a little screening party.  My littles were so proud!  This project was definitely a highlight of our year, and the kids really learned a lot about weather, and working together as a team.  Win, win!

All in all we spent about twenty minutes a day working on our project over the course of four weeks.  There were days when things came up, of course, and days when we squeezed in more time, but flexibility is the name of the game, right?!  That's what they keep telling us, anyway.,,
If this sounds like something you would like to try in your classroom, I gathered all of my recording sheets together and added some step by step directions to help keep you on track.  It's in my TPT store!

Now that PBL is becoming a district wide initiative I will be attending a training this summer with The Buck Institute for Education and I can't wait!  It will be so exciting to learn more about project based learning and plan new projects!

Friday, July 3, 2015

July Pick 3 Pinterest Party!

Can you believe it's already July 3rd?!  I feel like summer is just flying by!  My teacher brain is sloooowly starting to wake up.  I'm not quite to the point of planning anything, but I have at least started pinning ideas for next year.  Speaking of pinning...

I am linking up today with Lisa from PAWSITIVELY TEACHING and Marissa from INSPIRED OWL'S CORNER to share our top Pinterest picks for the month!

Ya'll.  I have to confess...I am the WORST when it comes to hanging border for bulletin boards.  I'm super type A and want it all straight and perfect, but I am TERRIBLE at it.  It takes me forever to get it straight.  My first pin just blew me away...

This is a game changer, friends.  Did you know there is a leveler app?!?  Am I just super late to the party?  Either way, I'm all sorts of excited about this.  I'm hoping it will make decorating my classroom for this year much easier (and less frustrating).  See the original pin here.

You all know how the first week of school goes.  It's all about rules, routines, and learning to function as a community.  I found this anchor chart from My Silly Firsties on Pinterest and just fell in love.  How cute is this??

I'm all about teaching my little friends to solve problems independently.  You can see the original pin here, and I would definitely recommend checking out her blog post.  Tons of cute anchor charts for the beginning of the year!

My last pin is less fun, but super necessary.  I did a little Pinterest research last night because the hubs and I decided it was time to start the dreaded diet (womp, womp).   It's coming up on time for our son to start fall baseball and it's important that he trim down and get his body ready, so we figured this would be a good opportunity for all of us to eat healthier and drop a little...ahem...fluff.  I have much excess fluff, I admit it.  Girl likes to eat.  Anyhoo, here is my last pin:

Some of those look kind of yummy, no?  Humor me....I'm trying not to think about spaghetti.  Oh carbs, I do so miss thee!  The original pin is here.

Well, that's it!  I hope you're pinning tons of fun stuff this summer!  Head on over to PAWSITIVELY TEACHING or INSPIRED OWL'S CORNER if you would like to link up and share your top three pins!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Prepping with Power Points

This week the challenge for the TPT Sellers Challenge was to create a brand new product.  I decided to create a new power point presentation to add to my series of Social Studies power points.  This particular little gem contains information on needs and wants, goods and services, and community helpers.
I don't know about you guys, but we have very little in the way of social studies resources where I teach. SUPER frustrating! 
For the most part, we do our best to integrate SS into our language arts time.  I decided to make some presentations that would introduce these concepts to my students in an engaging and interactive way.  My kiddos really enjoy these power points, mainly because there are lots of opportunities for "turn and talk" sessions, and they looooove to talk, amiright??

I generally will follow up the power point with a quick anchor chart of some sort.  I found this one on Pinterest last year (no picture credit, so if you know who made it, let me know!) and recreated it with my kiddos.  

The next day we may read a book on the same topic and make an entry in our social studies/science journals.  I also do my best to find guided reading books on the topic that we can read in reading groups.  As always, we have tons of discussion time to make sure everyone is understanding.

If you have the same "lack of resources" issue and you need some help, check out the power points in my TPT store.  I already created slideshows on:
~Rules (and why we need them)
~Past, Present, Future
~People at Work
~Families Change and Grow
~President's Day (Abe Lincoln and George Washington)
I plan on adding more in the future, and possibly putting them into a discounted bundle.

What about you?  How do you fit social studies into your day?